Angkor Wat. A Must?

Angkor Wat. A place that has been on my bucket list for the longest time. But, as with many destinations these days… tourists have overrun and ruined many beautiful places.

It wasn’t an exclusion for Angkor Wat… I thought waking up at 3:30am and heading out before the crack of dawn, would let me see and explore Angkor Wat before everyone else. But I was very wrong.

Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. It is located in Siem Reap, Cambodia and is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The temple dates back to the 12th century and was part of the Khmer Empire. (Okay enough of this history lesson…😛google the rest!)

My tuk tuk picked me up at 4:30am sharp. It was still pitch black dark outside. It was actually quite chilly as well. I’m glad I had brought my sweater… the ride on the tuk tuk to Angkor was freezing. I arrived at the ticket place at around 5am. I was actually first in line for the 1-day admission tickets. (You can purchase 1, 2 and 3 day passes) The line for the 3-day pass was the longest. I would recommend getting the 2-day pass. One day at Angkor is too short but three days may be too much. Well, depending on how much time you have in Siem Reap… you decide how much time you want to spend exploring Angkor.

I didn’t know that Angkor was that big! Angkor is literally a whole village. On the map, it looks as if Angkor is half of the city of Siem Reap. No wonder they sell 3-day passes.

I got to Angkor Wat, the most famous of the temples, at around 5:15am. My tuk tuk driver dropped me off and told me to meet back where he had dropped me in 3 hours. (You can discuss times with your driver) It was still too dark to see anything. People were using their flashlights on their phones to see where they were walking. I followed a small crowd for about a 15 minute walk. We reached some water, which looked to be a small pond. I could finally see a little orange from the sun sneaking up. I could see the outline of the beautiful architecture that was Angkor Wat. After about 10 minutes, the sun filled the dark sky with a little more light. After I snapped out of the initial awe of the sunrise… I looked around and saw hundreds of people all gathered in front of the pond. I’m not joking, there were hundreds and hundreds of people there! I read somewhere before that this was to be expected… but I didn’t believe that there would be THAT many people at 5am!All of these people gathered around at 5am!

Beautiful sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Now, I’ll keep my actual review short and sweet.

Are there a lot of tourists at Angkor? – YES.

Will it be difficult to get some photos? – Yes, at the really popular places. (i.e. Tomb Raider temple – Ta Prohm) it was impossible to get a photo of the famous tree in the movie without anyone in it.☹️ BUT, you can also get some really amazing photos if you venture away from the “Instagram” famous spots.

Tomb Raider temple. Sooooooo many people!

Is it worth it to go? YES! Even though, it IS extremely packed with tourists… it was one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing places I’ve ever been to. I had an amazing time exploring all of the temples.

Tip: Walk around the sides or back of places… get away from huge crowds and you can find some beautiful places to snap some photos with NO ONE in it!

A few more add ons to help you if you plan on visiting Angkor…

I got the one day pass and started my day at Angkor Wat at around 5:15am. I left Angkor Wat at around 8am. Then made my way to the next temple. I can’t remember the names of all of the temples I visited… (sorry!) but the ones I do remember are Ta Prohm, Bayon, Ta Som and Banteay. After a few hours, I was really tired and hot… that’s why you cannot see all of Angkor in one or even two days. You have to walk A LOT. I got back to my hotel at around noon. Thank goodness for late check out… I needed some time to recuperate before my flight that night.

All in all…. Angkor is extremely touristy. But, it is definitely worth a visit.

I’d actually love to go back one day.☺️

Asia Cambodia Siem Reap Solo Travel Unesco World Heritage Site

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hello, Jennie! I have certainly experienced the same frustration while visiting tourist sites around the world. It’s a shame you are not in Siem Reap right now, because the temples are utterly devoid of visitors. Can you imagine an empty Angkor Wat? We are planning to go again as having an Angkor temple all to yourself is an unmissable experience. Looking forward to reading more of your posts, especially the ones about your hometown. Have a nice day!

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    • Hi Leighton! Oh, that would be amazing to experience Angkor Wat without as many tourists! I wasn’t able to really see and get good photos of some spots when I was there due to there being so many people. Are you still in Siem Reap?? Hope you’re staying safe and well!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey Jennie, thanks for the reply. Yes, we’ve been in Siem Reap now for about 5 months. Have just decided to stay for another month and take it from there. Since the lockdown started, we’ve been busy working on a series of articles on the cafes and restaurants of the city. Meeting the owners, telling their stories, sharing how the lockdown has affected their livelihoods. It’s strange to think of the opportunities that can come about through something so negative. This project has kept us sane and given us a real sense of purpose over the past few months. Stay healthy and safe, and keep up the good work on the blog.

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